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ERIC Number: EJ1003528
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Jan
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0010-0277
Rational Snacking: Young Children's Decision-Making on the Marshmallow Task is Moderated by Beliefs about Environmental Reliability
Kidd, Celeste; Palmeri, Holly; Aslin, Richard N.
Cognition, v126 n1 p109-114 Jan 2013
Children are notoriously bad at delaying gratification to achieve later, greater rewards (e.g., Piaget, 1970)--and some are worse at waiting than others. Individual differences in the ability-to-wait have been attributed to self-control, in part because of evidence that long-delayers are more successful in later life (e.g., Shoda, Mischel, & Peake, 1990). Here we provide evidence that, in addition to self-control, children's wait-times are modulated by an implicit, rational decision-making process that considers environmental reliability. We tested children (M = 4;6, N = 28) using a classic paradigm--the marshmallow task (Mischel, 1974)--in an environment demonstrated to be either "unreliable" or "reliable". Children in the "reliable" condition waited significantly longer than those in the "unreliable" condition (p less than 0.0005), suggesting that children's wait-times reflected reasoned beliefs about whether waiting would ultimately pay off. Thus, wait-times on sustained delay-of-gratification tasks (e.g., the marshmallow task) may not only reflect differences in self-control abilities, but also beliefs about the stability of the world. (Contains 2 figures.)
Elsevier. 3251 Riverport Lane, Maryland Heights, MO 63043. Tel: 800-325-4177; Tel: 314-447-8000; Fax: 314-447-8033; e-mail: JournalCustomerService-usa@elsevier.com; Web site: http://www.elsevier.com
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A